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Steve Petteway

US Court rejects Tiffany caseEbay not responsible for fakes and copies

It's a bitter defeat for all brand manufacturers. The Supreme Court of the USA has not accepted the claim from the US-based jeweller Tiffany against the online auction platform Ebay. The highest US court, represented by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, rejected a petition for appeal by Tiffany against a previous judgment.

The case regarding the sale of forged products has occupied the Justice Department for six years. A federal court of appeal had previously judged that Ebay is not responsible for the sales of forgeries via their internet platform. For this reason, Ebay now has no obligation to require that they examine products offered for sale for authenticity via their platform. Now it is up to the brand owners to identify forgeries on Ebay.

The judgment is seen as indicative and relevant for many internet enterprises because it sets a precedent as to which extent operators of internet platforms can be held responsible for the content of their users. For manufacturers of brand and luxury products the latest developments are more than unpleasant because they favour and make easier the distribution of forgeries and copies and, in addition, induce considerable costs for the permanent control and supervision of online offers for the manufacturers.


In contrast, Michelle Fang, lawyer for Ebay explained: "The decision of the Supreme Court is a big victory for Ebay and the US consumer. We have always supposed that it is a matter in this case only of preventing genuine Tiffany products being bought and sold online."